Avoiding missteps when choosing supply chain partners

You've no doubt heard the axiom that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that idea is certainly applicable in the supply chain today. If you have any difficulties with your partners on either end of your operations, you will likely run into some major inefficiencies that can hinder your financial and operational performance.

With that in mind, you need to be quite careful about choosing your partners at every step of the supply chain so that your exposure to these risks are kept to a minimum, and making the right decision actually starts internally, according to TOC Logistics International. Perhaps the biggest consideration in finding a good partner is knowing what you need from them both now and as you grow and evolve. Laying out all your wants and needs and then evaluating which companies have the size or bandwidth to meet them is a vital part of such a search.

Finding the right partner is essential - but it's not always easy.Finding the right partner is essential - but it's not always easy.

Once you've whittled the field to a few options, you also need to understand how well-equipped those companies may be to share data and communicate with you on an ongoing basis, the company noted. An effective supply chain requires as much visibility and understanding between businesses as possible, and if a potential partner isn't set up to meet your needs, you shouldn't be in a position where you have to regularly compromise your goals to work with them. If you can work together to come up with a comprehensive approach to communications, you have likely found a solid partner.

Make sure they're reachable
Along those lines, you need to make sure your partners have emergency contacts who will be able to answer your calls whenever an issue arises, according to Thrive Global. It's one thing to be in regular communication when things are going smoothly, but if you can't get someone on the phone or to return your emails when you run into a hiccup in your operations, that's going to be a major source of frustration that also sets your operations back until the problem can be ironed out.

Of course, the point of communication and data sharing is to give you as much clarity as possible about the future of your individual business and its partnership with others. But if those partners don't have their own affairs in order and can't accurately forecast how their business will change in the next few months or quarters, that could have a significant impact on you. As such, it's best to make sure their past forecasts ended up being in line with their actual performance.

Flexibility is key
Every supply chain professional knows that you can plan all you want, but you'll still run into unexpected issues big and small as the year goes on, according to Frontline. In these cases, your partners have to be in a position to respond to issues on their end - and yours - and be willing to invest in solutions that help you both get ahead together. Hesitation or failure to do so could leave you in a difficult position.

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